Vol. 17, #22 - May 28, 2012 - Issue #881 Top10 freeware tools for IT pros

Hardware Hints

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Hardware Hints
    • Tip of the Week
    • Recommended for Learning
    • Quote of the Week
  2. Admin Toolbox
    • Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. Events Calendar
    • Americas
    • Europe
    • Asia/Pacific
  4. Webcast Calendar
    • Best Practices for Virtualizing Microsoft Exchange
    • This Week's Webcasts
    • Register for Webcasts
  5. Tech Briefing
    • Weekend Scripter: Active Directory Account Unlock Shortcut for Help Desk
    • Application Compatibility: Things You Shouldn't Do But Are Tempted To
    • Don't expect to install Windows 8 on a Raspberry Pi
    • Top 10 Admin Console Improvements in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager
    • Preventing a Genuine Security Risk
    • Windows 8 key combinations inside of Hyper-V
    • Let’s Build a Cloud… With PowerShell! - Part 1: Deployment and Configuration
    • New vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA) whitepapers
  6. Windows Server News
    • What makes a good cloud provider?
    • Uncovering hidden VDI cost savings: How to boost your VDI ROI
    • New virtual data center design decisions with Hyper-V 3.0
    • How P2V tools can help you choose between Hyper-V and VMware
  7. WServerNews FAVE Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Fun Stuff.
  8. WServerNews - Product of the Week
    • Top 10 Freeware Tools of 2012 for IT Professionals

Top 10 Freeware Tools of 2012 for IT Professionals

100% free award-winning auditing, security, monitoring and management tools. Audit changes in AD, file servers, mailboxes; manage passwords, event log, etc. Independently reviewed by industry experts they proved useful for many IT pros. The TOP 10 list is constantly renewed and the tools get regular updates. 

Download Now >>

Editor's Corner

SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for tips, tools and other resources you might need to do your job or troubleshoot some problem you're dealing with. And forward it to a friend or colleague who might find it helpful for doing their job.

Hardware Hints

This week it's trick or treat for PC hardware troubleshooting enthusiasts. Enjoy, and send me feedback at [email protected] if you have any comments/questions about any of the stuff in this newsletter.

Troubleshooting device resource conflicts

You want to hook up two monitors to your Windows 7 PC, so you try installing a second video card you have lying around (you're too cheap to buy a multimon-capable video card). It doesn't work, so you open Device Manager and it says your new device has resource conflicts but offers no further information. Where can you get more info about the resource conflict?

Click the Start button and type "System Information" to open msinfo32.exe and look in Conflicts/Sharing under Hardware Resources.

Tools for diagnosing flakey hard drives

My hard drive is starting to go on the fritz. What's a good tool for diagnosing what's wrong?

Check out CrystalDiskInfo from Crystal Dew World, it's a free HDD/SSD utility that supports S.M.A.R.T. and part of USB-HDD. Also see Hard Disk Sentinel, which can verify internal hard disks, external hard disks, SSDs, and disks in RAID arrays. You'll find links to these two tools in the Admin Toolbox section of this newsletter.

Extending USB connections

You want to have your USB printer in your upstairs office and connect it to the server in your basement. But the maximum supported length for the USB specification is only 5 meters and that's not enough. What can you do?

Try an active USB extender (a USB extension cable with a built-in repeater) such as this one:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337947884104

If the USB device you want to connect to your computer has its own power source (for example a USB printer) you could also try using a pair of USB-to-Cat5 adapters and some Cat5 cabling:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337947889979

Note that USB-to-Cat5 typically works up to about 150 feet (or about 50 meters) but sometimes longer runs will cause USB 2.0 to throttle down to USB 1.1 which may be too slow for some purposes. If you need something that will go further over Cat5/6 cabling then you might try this but it costs more:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337947895370

Fried drives

You don't want to throw out an older ATA hard drive, so you buy an ATA to USB external HD enclosure and now you have an el cheapo external USB drive you can use. Then a few weeks later your old ATA drive dies. Why?

That's been my experience too. I think the reason may be that most generic HD enclosures have passive cooling which doesn't work very well, so if you run them a lot they get very hot and the drive inside them gets fried. I've noticed this also with some off-the-shelf external USB drives such as the one I use to make an extra backup of my laptop--the USB drive gets REALLY hot by the time the backup is finished.

What about using a generic HD enclosure that has a built-in fan? Unfortunately most of those have tiny little fans that make an annoying buzzing sound but do little more.

One generic HD enclosure that's been recommended by several of my colleagues is the Antec MC-1:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337947901479

If you know of any others you can recommend, let me know at [email protected]

Slow DVD drive

Here's an actual story I heard from a colleague. The DVD drive on his friend's Windows 7 PC started taking a long time to spin up and read any DVDs inserted into the drive. He tried fiddling with the cabling for the drive and plugging it into a different SATA port on the motherboard but nothing helped. He tried updating the firmware but that didn't help either. Almost at the end of his wits, he tried using System Restore to roll back the system to a recent restore point. Problem solved, so it must have been something (an update? a configuration change) that happened after that restore point but he never discovered what it was.

Use a SD card as a disk volume

You have 64 GB SD card that you can plug into your refurbished media center PC running Windows 7. You'd like to use the card like a normal disk volume and install an application on it, but when you try running the installer and pointing it to the card it won't let you install the app there. What can you do?

Creating a virtual hard disk (.vhd file) using the Disk Management snap-in in the Computer Management console. Once the virtual hard disk has been created, you'll be prompted to initialize it. Then create a new volume on it and you're ready to go. If you later need to pull the SD card from your PC, first detach the VHD using Disk Management to unmount the volume on it, and then remove the card.

For more info about VHD support in Windows 7, see this post on the Virtualization Team Blog on Technet:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337947910620

Best video cards

I want to upgrade the video card in my PC. What's the best graphics card I can get for my money? I don't want a lemon. Where should I look for advice concerning this?

Tom's Hardware is the best site I know of for advice like this. Check out their recent article Best Graphics Cards For The Money: May 2012:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337947915729

And take some time to make yourself familiar with other kinds of info on this terrific site.

Got any other PC hardware sites to recommend to our readers? Email me at [email protected]

Need a second wired network adapter

You want to use your laptop to demo some cloud stuff so you've got Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and System Center 2007 R3 installed on it. You need a second wired network interface though as you want to keep your management network separate from your cloud network. But your laptop only has one built-in Ethernet interface. What can you do?

Try using something like this pluggable USB 2.0 to 10/100 Fast Ethernet network adapter:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337947922323

Share your expertise!

Got PC hardware tips, gotchas or real-life stories that make some good point? Share your expertise with our readers by sending them to us at [email protected]

Tip of the Week

This tip is about troubleshooting an issue when using MDT to deploy Windows to blade servers. A colleague tried using MDT to deploy Windows to a bunch of blade servers but with one of them they kept getting the following error:

Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition

After opening the chassis and investigating the problem blade they discovered that there was a USB flash drive plugged into a USB slot inside the blade. The purpose of this flash drive was for loading firmware, and after it was removed the deployment succeeded.

Got any tips to recommend to our readers? Let us know at [email protected]

Recommended for Learning

Some recent titles from O'Reilly this week:

The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization, Second Edition (O'Reilly) helps you plan, implement and evaluate an effective SEO strategy:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337947930011

Head First Mobile Web (O'Reilly) This title from their Brain-Friendly Guide series helps you design and build sites and apps that are optimized to work on mobile devices using JavaScript, CSS and HTML5:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337947935198

Fitness for Geeks: Real Science, Great Nutrition, and Good Health (O'Reilly) combines information about nutrition and exercise with the latest gadgets and apps that can help you achieve your fitness goals:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337947940433

Quote of the Week

"Yes. Life is short. Way too short and getting shorter all the time. So enjoy it. Become a hedonist and just enjoy it. Stop being so self-righteous and pious and kick back and enjoy it. No one really cares that much anyway... Why do you care so much about what others think anyway? Who are they to judge you? They are not living your life--you are. Get on with *your* life and enjoy it. There is not much time left." --Larry Winget from his book Shut Up, Stop Whining & Get A Life.

Larry is a fun author to read because he's real and gets in your face and never minces his words. He's also known as The Pitbull of Personal Development and The World's Only Irritational Speaker, and he speaks all over the world offering solid advice for improving your life and your business. His books are both humorous and insightful, and I've read several of them and enjoyed them, especially these four:

Until next week,

Cheers,
Mitch Tulloch

 

Admin Toolbox

Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

New Top 10 free tools for IT pros. Audit changes in AD, GPO, file servers and mailboxes; manage passwords and event log; monitor processes; etc.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337949381270

Compare, Report, Consolidate and Simplify Group Policy
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337949385770
 
Powerful Server Performance Monitoring for Your Physical & Virtual Servers
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337949392536
 
Using Microsoft Hyper-V? Altaro Hyper-V Backup Freeware Edition is an easy to use Hyper-V aware backup solution. Watch the YouTube Video.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337949401036

Diagnose hard disk problems with this free utility that supports S.M.A.R.T. and part of USB-HDD:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337947962105

Use this tool to verify internal hard disks, external hard disks, SSDs, and disks in RAID arrays:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337947966620

 

Events Calendar

Americas

Europe

Asia/Pacific

Add your event

Contact Michael Vella at [email protected] to get your conference or other event listed in our Events Calendar.

 

Webcast Calendar

Best Practices for Virtualizing Microsoft Exchange

May 30, 2012 - Learn VMware best practices and approach to help you improve IT efficiency, flexibility and availability, transforming service delivery while reducing costs through virtualizing Microsoft Exchange Server:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337947992761

This Week's Webcasts

Register for Webcasts

 Add your Webcast

Contact Michael Vella at [email protected] to get your webcast listed in our Webcasts Calendar.

 

Tech Briefing

Weekend Scripter: Active Directory Account Unlock Shortcut for Help Desk

The Scripting Guys share a PowerShell tip to save time for the Help Desk to unlock Active Directory accounts:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948010808

Application Compatibility: Things You Shouldn't Do But Are Tempted To

Be sure to avoid quick fixes like the ones listed in this helpful post from awhile back by Daniel Oxley on The Deployment Guys Blog:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948015543

Don't expect to install Windows 8 on a Raspberry Pi

The Pi is an ARM device but Windows 8 RT has specific ARM requirements and will only be available pre-installed on new ARM devices. Learn more in this post on the Building Windows 8 blog:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948021011

Top 10 Admin Console Improvements in System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

Heena Macwan explains why you'll find SCCM 2012 easier to use in this post on the Microsoft Server and Cloud Platform Blog:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948026543

Preventing a Genuine Security Risk

Aidan Finn explains why creating a fixed VHD with Hyper-V takes so long:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948031715

Windows 8 key combinations inside of Hyper-V

Along with the new user experience, Microsoft has introduced a number of new Windows-Key shortcut combinations in Windows 8:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948035090

Let’s Build a Cloud… With PowerShell! - Part 1: Deployment and Configuration

Yigal Edery of Microsoft explains how to get started in this post on the Private Cloud Architecture Blog:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948038136

New vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA) whitepapers

VMware has published some new performance whitepapers on the vSphere Storage Appliance based on performance evaluations carried out by Principled Technologies with a view to measuring real-life workloads:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948040715

 

Windows Server News

What makes a good cloud provider?

A vital question for companies considering cloud adoption is “What makes a good cloud provider?” Basic answers tend to include low costs, a fit for the buyer’s application models and a realistic SLA. But these answers have become table stakes in the cloud market. They’re not enough to separate “good” or even “great” cloud providers from the rest. Enterprises gambling IT budgets on cloud need concrete ways to differentiate cloud providers before upping the ante.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948060683

Uncovering hidden VDI cost savings: How to boost your VDI ROI

Desktop virtualization can reduce hardware, support and administration costs, but there are other ways to achieve VDI cost savings that may not be on your radar. Find out how in this expert tip.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948067230

New virtual data center design decisions with Hyper-V 3.0

With new Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V 3.0 features -- such as the SMB 3.0 protocol, share-nothing live migration and SOFS clusters, organizations will have more virtual data center design options. Choosing which design is the best will largely depend on the size of the company as well as its IT maturity. With that, here’s a look at four ways to deploy Hyper-V in a virtual data center.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948070121

How P2V tools can help you choose between Hyper-V and VMware

Hyper-V or VMware? The question's not going away, but migration planning products can help you give a more informed answer. Learn more in this exclusive article.
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948073340

 

WServerNews FAVE Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Top10 free tools for IT professionals

A compilation of some of the best jet pilot cockpit footage:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948119528

Flash mob in the Metro by the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948121825

Sun Studio: Where Rock and Roll Was Born:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948124246

Help Al Lowe Bring Back Leisure Suit Larry!
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948126590

Finally! A Flying Car for the Masses!
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948129153

Derek's "Amateur" Rockets Fly to 120,000+ Feet:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/1337948131746

 

WServerNews - Product of the Week

Top 10 Freeware Tools of 2012 for IT Professionals

100% free award-winning auditing, security, monitoring and management tools. Audit changes in AD, file servers, mailboxes; manage passwords, event log, etc. Independently reviewed by industry experts they proved useful for many IT pros. The TOP 10 list is constantly renewed and the tools get regular updates. 

Download Now >>

WServerNews - Editors

Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press and has published hundreds of articles for IT pros. Mitch is also a seven-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com

Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also Head of Research for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.


 

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